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Structure of Mafia crime family

A caporegime or capodecina, usually shortened to just a capo, is a term used in the Mafia for a high-ranking made member of a crime family who heads a "crew" of soldiers and has major social status and influence in the organization. Caporegime is an Italian word, which is used to signify the head of a family in Sicily, but has now come to mean a ranking member, similar to captain or senior sergeant in a military unit. In general, the term indicates the head of a branch of an organized crime syndicate who commands a crew of soldiers and reports directly to the Don (Boss) or an Underboss or Streetboss.


The Mafia, particularly the American Mafia, is typically divided into distinct and partially independent "crews" headed by a "capo" or leader of the individuals. Individual crew members report to the capo. The crew collects protection and other money for the capo, who at regular intervals gives a share (or "taste") of the collected money to the underboss and/or the boss. Estimates of average income of a capo varies and is difficult to quantify. Income is dependent on the success and size of a capo's crew and the state of the economy at the time.

Mafia crews are usually independent from each other, with members typically operating strictly within their own crew. Asking Mafia members how many crews and how many individuals are in a family is prohibited because of the Mafia's oath of secrecy and the suspicion that the inquiring individual might be an informant.

Sometimes a crew might specialize in certain areas like gambling, while other crews might be more involved in legitimate interests like construction. A crew might also operate in certain geographical areas.

The number of caporegimes/crews depends on the size of a family. The Gambino crime family has had more than 20 capos whereas the St. Louis crime family has had fewer.


In the Mafia, when a boss makes a decision, he passes instructions down through the chain of command. Whenever he issues orders, in most cases he gives them to the capo. In some cases, he gives orders to the consigliere, who in turn passes them to the capo. In either case, it is the capo who passes them to the soldiers in his crew. For years, this made it extremely difficult to indict a boss for illegal acts, since the soldiers almost never receive orders directly from him. A caporegime acts as a buffer between the soldiers and the boss. Effectively, a caporegime operates his own small family within the framework of a larger family.

Each capo is in charge of a mini-gang or a crew of soldiers and associates that can range greatly in size. These men may or may not be based in close proximity. For example, Bonanno crime family capo Joey Gambino had crew members spread throughout New York's five boroughs and even had crew members operating in New Jersey. Capos have varying degrees of power. Some are relatives or close friends of the boss, which gives them more influence. A capo with an active crew that generates a lot of profits is always respected. For example, when he was a capo, John Gotti was widely respected and tolerated due to the profits his crew generated for the Gambino crime family. Despite their various blunders and mistakes, they successfully avoided getting killed by their superiors and were tolerated due to this fact. On the other hand, capo Joe Sferra of the DeCavalcante crime family was demoted to soldier and removed from his lucrative union post in June 1965 after a series of blunders. In 1984, a more severe loss of power occurred to Salvatore "Salvie" Testa, a once rising Philadelphia crime family capo. He ended up getting murdered by Nicky Scarfo due to the suspicions raised about his loyalty.

See also[edit]


  • Capeci, Jerry. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia. Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002. ISBN 0-02-864225-2.

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caporegime — Please support Wikipedia.
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161 news items


Sun, 22 Nov 2015 06:03:21 -0800

... operations of the fictional Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. As Ace and caporegime Nicky (Joe Pesci) rise and fall in business and in love (with Sharon Stone, in a film-stealing and Oscar-nominated performance), paranoia and emasculation lead to ...

Commentary Magazine

Commentary Magazine
Sun, 01 Nov 2015 08:05:50 -0800

He is familiar to a political caste that followed his career when he served as an aide to President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001, and his reputation is that of a caporegime's goon. A man with a penchant for conspiratorial thinking so pronounced his ...


Thu, 19 Nov 2015 08:48:28 -0800

"Sciarabball" era una sorta di "caporegime", al soldo di gente come Federico Trisciuoglio e Michele Mansueto, quest'ultimo deceduto. Ma la vita di Luigi "Sciarabball" De Stefano è finita in un pomeriggio di metà novembre, sotto una pioggia di piombo ...


Tue, 13 Oct 2015 06:23:41 -0700

It's a great play call because it worked. If it had backfired, running off the remaining five seconds and being stopped shy of the goal line, the Steelers get blasted this morning for a terrible play call. Those value judgments are subjective, and ...

BuzzFeed News

BuzzFeed News
Mon, 14 Sep 2015 20:04:22 -0700

He placed huge columns in front and, at one point — my old law enforcement sources say — told a caporegime: “This is how we should live. Like presidents,” words that infuriated his successor Gotti, whose regular hangout was the drab Ravenite Social ...


Fri, 10 Jul 2015 12:30:00 -0700

Each “crew” has as its leader a person known as a “Caporegime,” “Capo,” “Captain,” or “Skipper,” who is responsible for supervising the criminal activities of his crew and providing “Soldiers” and associates with support and protection. In return, the ...


Sun, 18 Oct 2015 13:31:54 -0700

“Democrat” Hillary who has a stranglehold on the Democratic National Committee through her henchwoman, DNC caporegime Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who could give lessons to Tony Soprano in rubbing out the opposition and lying about it. (FYI: in this ...

Tech Times

Tech Times
Fri, 18 Sep 2015 11:24:38 -0700

Interwoven with these interviews (whose subjects include former undercover agent Joe Pistone, otherwise known as wiseguy Donnie Brasco, Colombo caporegime (captain) and racketeer-turned-motivational speaker Michael "Yuppie Don" Franzese, and ...

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